For the love of hogs!
RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange is seeing a general increase every year on admissions
An RSPCA wildlife centre in Cheshire which is on course to admit its 400th hedgehog this year is reminding people about what to do if they see one of the iconic spiky creatures.
Since the start of the year, 375 have came into the care of Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre - an average of 12 a week. It is expected that by the end of August, at least 400 will have passed through the doors of the centre in London Road, Nantwich.
Now the centre is urging people what to do if they see a hedgehog - and whether they can be safely left alone or if they need veterinary attention.
Lee Stewart, manager at Stapeley Grange, said: “Since we opened in 1994 we have generally seen a steady increase year on year of the number of hedgehogs coming into our care, particularly since 2010. This tells us that more people are looking out for wildlife, and we think that’s great. However, we do get some hedgehogs brought into us which aren’t injured and don’t necessarily need bringing in.
“As a rule of thumb if you see a hedgehog out during the day then it’s likely there is something wrong, as hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures.
“On occasions you may find an adult hedgehog out at dusk and dawn - this may be a restless female about to give birth or a female with hoglets searching for additional food. But if they appear active and there is nothing obviously wrong - for example the hedgehog is injured, circling or staggering or in immediate danger - they should be left alone.
“If in doubt though, seek advice from the RSPCA or your local wildlife rehabilitator.”
Lee added: “Sadly, as with many wild animals, those that are removed from their natural habitat suffer from the stress of handling and, without having learnt survival tactics, may even die following release back into the wild.
“However some of these animals are perfectly healthy but have been removed from their natural habitat by well-meaning members of the public who fear they are in danger or have been abandoned by their mothers. In many cases, the mothers are in fact close-by and simply hiding but will not return if a human is present.
“We appreciate that it may be difficult to know what to do if you see a baby hedgehog. Some will have been orphaned, and others may have had their nest destroyed by mistake. If a member of public uncovers a nest full of hoglets, we recommend that they cover it up again, as their mother will very likely be foraging nearby.
“So we do urge anyone who comes across a nest of infant hedgehogs should be careful not to disturb them because this may lead to the mother abandoning her young. It is far better for a hedgehog to be raised by its own mother.
“We think it’s important to make people aware because some people do not know what to do if they see a hedgehog, and whether they need help or not. If in doubt, then seek advice by calling our 24-hour helpline on 0300 1234 999.”
The centre also sees, every summer, a number of hedgehogs which come in as a result of gardening-related injuries.
Lee said: “In many cases these sort of injuries are completely avoidable. Hedgehogs can be well hidden in long vegetation or can curl up into a ball when they sense danger, which can make them harder to spot, so having a check before using a strimmer or a lawnmower can prevent horrific and potentially fatal injuries.
“Even simple gardening activities such as forking over a compost heap can have deadly consequences for these little creatures.”
For advice on living with hedgehogs and guidance on making your garden safer for hedgehogs, please visit https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/livingwith.
For factsheets on helping hedgehogs in the garden and caring for autumn juvenile hedgehogs (orphans) please visit the RSPCA’s "hedgehogs in the garden" webpage (https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/wildlife/inthewild/gardenhedgehogs).